Ugh Tall Boots…


Trying to get back into my blogging after a week in Florida. I had hoped to have something exciting worth writing about in an equine blog (like seeing my sister’s new prospective horse), but alas I drove by HITS because Ocala detour for work, chased Offspring around Clearwater beach, watched my oldest nephew get married, would have killed for some equine mental therapy (more on that in an upcoming blog), and to be honest the whole trip was really one big exhausting blur.

So I came across this blog post that was absolutely hilarious in the Chronicle of the Horse. The post was by an equestrian comparing the process of buying tall boots 25 years ago versus the process now, she’s spot on in her descriptions. As someone that returned to showing horses after a ten year hiatus, I was amazed at the difference a decade made in hunter show clothes.

Now hunter fashion has not changed much in the past 60 years, maybe longer. You wear tailored jackets in conservative colors (black, navy, hunter green), with collared conservative shirts. Breeches remained virtually unchanged in beige, tan, or white (more of a dressage thing), and you complete the look with black (although I have seen a few people sport brown at shows) knee high riding boots with a hunt cap to top it off. Basically you look like a film extra for the riding scenes in Downton Abbey. While the style of clothing has not changed, the fabrics and technology behind the clothes has progressed in light years.

If only I had access to moisture wicking fabric shirts that were totally vented under the arms and on the back side when I was showing in my teens and college. In the old days you ended up with 100% cotton starched shirts and collars. They were stiff, hot, and retained moisture. It was completely possible to boil to death in your own sweat. Jackets were a cotton/wool/polyester blend guaranteed not to breath. The material was thick, lined, and required dry cleaning.

Hunt caps came in either the safety variety (3 inches thick, more like a football helmet, and offered crash protection when your horse hurtled you through a fence at 25 mph) or the “brain bucket” variety (1/8 of an inch thick, no harness or chin strap, literally flew off your head if your horse so much as crow hopped, but so much more stylish than the safety version). Boots 15 years ago did not come with zippers. You needed boot pulls, a can of WD40, cellophane wrapped legs, and a miracle to pull them on the first few times (or months or years) you wore them.

The 90’s version of tall boots

Despite the miracle of zippered boots, I’ve yet to find a pair that will last me more than a year. I’m sure if I was willing to part with $1000 plus, DeNiro would be happy to send me custom boots that would last at least two years before the zippers blow, but I’m not quite willing to spend that much. So far I’ve tried three of the major name brand boot styles in the under $1000 price range. Apparently riding two horses six days a week is outside the realm of annual expected wear a boot is designed to survive.

So, as I look at my third pair of tall boots in otherwise good condition disregarding the gaping hole midway down the calf where the elastic attaches to the zipper, decisions must be made. Do I call yet another boot company and complain until they replace my current boots with a pair that will inevitably bring me to this same place approximately one year from now? Do I attempt to have the local boot repair guy, Bob (who has so far failed to adequately repair any item I’ve taken him), patch the zippers up long enough to get me through a show season? Or do I take a chance and begin to look at boots in a higher price point range?

Obviously, I’m leaning heavily on option three, since I listed it last. Maybe a combination of option two and three. Repair current boots and buy new fancy boots just for shows. The problem with option three is that undoubtedly if I go the combo route, I will find that the new boots are far superior to the patch jobs, and I will want to ride in them more than just for shows. After all, I ride almost every day, I only compete 5-10 times per year. First world equestrian problems…

How does one wrap their head around a $1000 pair of boots? Don’t get me wrong I’m not opposed to spending that on quality footwear that will last, but my experiences with zipper boots so far leads me to believe the boots will not last much longer than two years max. I may not be giving the high end boots enough credit. Maybe going up a price point would make all the difference in durability, but that’s a lot of money to spend when there was a time my horse, clothes, tack, and quite possibly the trailer the horse arrived in combined did not equal the current price of high end tall boots.

So I continue to peruse Instagram and Pinterest dreaming of how python Spanish cuffed field boots, in brown with the Swarovski crystals in honey would complete my show look. I’ll probably just do the responsible “Adult” thing and order something in my current boot price point again. At least I’m guaranteed to get a new pair every year, if I stick to the “Major 3” boot manufacturers. It’s really a coin toss which one to go with this time. Sigh, Offspring has a college fund that could use the money more than DeNiro anyway…

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